Why Podcast Listening Won't Ever Return To Normal [Episode 281]
Listenership is down across the board in podcasting. Your listener's routines have been disrupted. In a big way. Some much worse than others, obviously. But rest assured that just about every listener you have is having their routine and habits impacted in some way. And it’s that disruption in habits that is the root cause of decreased listening that your show is likely experiencing.
People aren't going to the gym nearly as often as they used to, which means they aren’t listening on a treadmill, StairMaster, whatever else people do at a gym.
People aren't commuting as often as they used to. Less windshield time means less time spent listening to podcasts and all other forms of audio.
But with all these people now staying home, why hasn’t podcast listenership increased? Because even at-home habits have changed.
Worse news: this isn’t just temporary. No, everything will not go back to normal as soon as this pandemic is over.
I hate the phrase “this is the new normal”. What we’re all living through right now is new and certainly is becoming normal. But normal is fleeting. What’s normal today won’t be normal next week. So “this is the new” is much better. That needs a hashtag: #thisisthenew
Yes, the restrictions currently in place will (eventually) cease. And when that happens, of course people will return to the gym, commute to and fro, and put their kids back in school.
But not exactly in the same fashion as they did before.
Your listeners are forming new habits. Your listeners are learning new routines. And here’s the kicker: Businesses are learning too. They might learn that WFH - work from home - is a huge cost-cutter, and some of your listeners might never again have a daily commute.
New habits. New routines.
The longer we live in this new world, the more these new routines will become new habits. And the less likely we are to go back to old habits that no longer fit our new routines.
Please don’t take my words as a doom-and-gloom prediction. Yes, things will get better for most of your listeners. Yes, we will see overall podcast listenership increase to where it was and then beyond that. Podcasting will survive this pandemic.
But podcasting on the other side will be different if only because the habits people formed around podcast listening have changed and will never mirror the way they were before.
I wish I offering up non-pandemic stuff, but it’s probably a topic I’m going to orbit for a while since this show is all about helping you think about the big questions faced by all of us in podcasting. And this is where we live now. #thisisthenew